Thursday, May 16, 2013
Writing exercises to keep you writing every day
Today, I'd like to talk about writing. If you write, you've probably either read or heard someone say: WRITE. EVERY. DAY.
It's a very disciplined approach to the craft, and it helps you improve it a little bit every day. I like it. But, if you're working on a bigger project, like a novel or a novella, or even a short story, I'm sure there was a day when you've probably felt less encouraged to deal with your work in progress. That is normal, yes. There are days when we just aren't very happy with ourselves, the plot isn't flowing well, or we're stuck with writer's block, or we're a bit lazy, tired, or not in the right mood to go on with a particular scene in the story.
The first time I heard people tell me I had to write every day, I just assumed I had to work on my book every day. And, in all honesty, that was a painful commitment. I didn't want to walk away from my book for days and days, of course, but I just didn't want to feel like I had to be tied to it on a daily basis, simply because I couldn't be THAT productive. Inspiration drained at times. Do you know what I mean?
When I realized, though, that "WRITE. EVERY. DAY" actually applied to anything I wanted to write about, my life changed. Yes, I'll write every day... about anything. It could even be related to my book, though not a commitment to get a chapter done, for instance. It could be anything. It could be a journal entry. Blogging. Anything. As long as you're writing, you're studying and improving your craft.
There are two writing exercises I love doing when I can't focus on my work in progress as much as I'd like. One of them helps me get deeper in my novel, although in a fun, less stressful way. Another way isn't related to my book, but it helps me exercise my creativity and approach to writing. I'll introduce both exercises to you:
1) Tara K. Harper's character worksheet
This character worksheet does wonders, and I think you've probably seen it around before. I don't know if you've ever tried answering these questions, but I recommend you do.
Some of these questions you won't know right away, and they'll get you thinking about your characters. The more you figure things out, the more relaxed you'll feel about going back to your work in progress. I see it as an opportunity to interview your main characters when it feels like there's something missing about them.
In the end, I swear, you'll feel like you just spent some time hanging out with a friend.
This website aims at helping writers break through writer's block. I'd say it also helps us approach writing from different angles. I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel tempted to sticking with a set of characters' traits and personalities / likes and dislikes I'm comfortable with.
Writing, though, is about expanding our horizons, right? So, when you try this website's character generator, for instance, you're introduced to characters you've never allowed yourself to explore. An example they have is "an articulate 54 year-old woman, who can sometimes be selfish." Now, what's her story? Who is she? Don't you get more and more curious about her, even though you prefer YA main characters? You might even end up adding these characters to your work in progress.
They have other writing exercises, too, and many more generators (plot, name, first line, random subject) to help you get your creativity flowing. It's a great way to step out of your book. They give you so many elements, and your job is to find a creative way to put everything together, perhaps in just 30 minutes or so. It's important never to stop writing. Write every day, even if it's just a 5-minute writing exercise from this website.
I hope you find these writing exercises helpful. And, of course, don't forget to read. Don't feel guilty about reading. I often see so many writers feeling guilty about taking time off to read, because they think they should either be writing or working on something else. I'm telling you: write every day, and read every day. Read everything. Read as much as you want. It counts as research, too, if you will. Reading is what triggered your wish to write, remember? Keep that flame alive!
All the best,